Work on a new community center is underway in Fayette County with the express purpose of helping Fayette residents achieve their dreams.

In collaboration with other organizations and churches in Fayette County, members of Fresh Fire Church are renovating the former Cardale Elementary School into “The Dream Center.”

The Rev. Adam Lawson, senior pastor of Fresh Fire Church and director of The Dream Center, said the center, at 192 Filbert Orient Road in Cardale, will focus on life stabilization, education and aspirations.

“Our dream is to help you reach yours,” he said. “The Dream Center will answer many of the problems our community and Fayette County are facing.”

Upon completion, The Dream Center will include a full gym, day care, graphic imaging apprenticeship program, counseling services, employment assistance, addiction recovery services and a free Wi-Fi coffee shop, among other spaces and services. Lawson said they also plan to expand their food distributions and clothing bank they currently hold at Fresh Fire Church and move them to the center. Part of the building will be used as an event center to help cover costs of the resources.

Partner organizations include the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, Head Start of Fayette County, Cornerstone Television Network/Pittsburgh Faith & Family Channel and Harvest Baptist Church.

“This place is going to be a place that brings families together,” said Tom McGough, of Cornerstone Television Network.

Renovations began in May 2017, when the building was purchased, but Lawson said the group has encountered its share of difficulties since the start. When they acquired the property, the tile ceilings were ripped apart and much of the copper piping was stolen, along with other parts of the structure, he said.

Although the project has a long way to go, Lawson said they have made considerable progress since work was resumed on the building about 60 days ago. In 2020, work was paused on the project due to the pandemic.

The renovations have been split into three phases, with the estimated cost to create The Dream Center placed at $1.7 million. Lawson said they will attempt to keep the project debt-free, however, so they are seeking donations of money and supplies to continue work. Organizers also are looking for as many volunteers as possible to assist with the project.

Lawson said if all goes smoothly, phase one should be completed by fall. This phase includes the event center, kitchen, HVAC system and more. The second phase will include resurfacing the parking lots and redoing the plumbing, among other improvements.

Phase three will focus on renovation of the lower level of the building as well as a playground and pool outdoors on the property. Lawson estimates this phase will be completed in around 18 months.

“All of these programs and many more that I did not mention will bring much-needed change to Cardale, Uniontown, Brownsville, Connellsville and all of Fayette County by helping and teaching our residents, families and friends that there is hope,” Lawson said, “that someone does believe in you, that we do care about you, that your dreams are important and that your dreams are possible.”

To learn more about The Dream Center or to donate, visit dreamfayette.org.

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